June 28, 2013

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Hey guys!  First things first, have you entered my Cheribundi giveaway?  It ends tonight!

Second, I'm sure you all already know that google reader is going away SOON--*tear.  BUT don't worry, you can still follow Juice Boxes + Crayolas through Bloglovin'!  Click this button to become a follower!

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June 27, 2013

Guided Math Without Centers

Don't forget to enter my Cheribundi tart cherry juice giveaway!

Another possible title for this post was: "Guided Math Without Losing Your Mind."  
This is a long post, so bear with me!

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has felt like they were ready to tear their hair out or lose their mind when attempting or even thinking about attempting guided math.  The truth is that we know small group instruction WORKS, but setting up a guided math setting is just not the same as setting up a guided reading setting.  First of all, in Guided Reading, it's easy to have the kids who aren't meeting with you "Just read" or "Just write" (Hello Daily 3!).  But there is no way to say to kids, "Just do math!" when they aren't meeting with the teacher.  I have seen beautiful math center structures on other people's blogs, but every time I looked at them I just have to say, "Where do you find the time???"  Seriously folks, I am already spread so thin at school that the thought of prepping math centers with meaningful activities every week makes me want to curl up shaking in the fetal position.  Maybe that makes me a lazy teacher, but I think it just makes me a realist.

This year I tweaked my Guided Math structure quite a bit, and while it is DEFINITELY not perfect and continuously evolving, by the end of the year it was functioning pretty well most of the time which to me is a success in itself.  I know Guided Math is a big push in many districts these days and something many teachers are still trying to figure out, so I thought I would share what has been working lately for me!

Seating Arrangement + Brain Buddies
One key feature of my math class is "Brain Buddies."  Basically I create my seating chart for math class so that each student is sitting next to or across from a student of a different ability level.  This student is their assigned Brain Buddy.  I have my kiddos Turn + Talk to their Brain Buddies during my shared lesson, compare answers on HW with their Brain Buddies at the start of class, and explain their thinking on problems they just worked out to their Brain Buddy.  (Within my (homogeneous) guided math groups, I also assign a Brain Buddy--more on this below in the Guided Math section).

Starting Math Class: Transition + First Minutes of Class
I use Everyday Mathematics in my classroom and get 60 minutes a day for math.  However, we switch classrooms (yay multi-grade...) for math, so by the time transitions happen it's usually around 50-55 minutes.  When kids enter my classroom at math time, I have a math message up on the projector:
I use music for my transitions, so the kids come into math to a song.  We sing and clap together, and at the end of the song, all kids are expected to have the appropriate materials out and be ready to learn.  I start math either with a homework check (SHORT--I just go over a couple tricky problems), some mental math, or a quick review problem on white boards.  I try to have this warm up and hw collection done within the first 5 minutes of math so I can jump into my shared lesson.

Shared Math
One challenge with guided math structures is keeping that shared lesson short.  I try to keep mine to 20 minutes so I can have plenty of time for guided groups.  However, there are days when 20 minutes just isn't enough to cover the new content I need to teach!  Those days I might go a little long and sacrifice one rotation of guided, but I try really hard not to do that too often.
One of may anchor charts created at the carpet during guided.  
(I create the "bones" in advance to save time during the shared lesson.)

To keep the kids from getting antsy, I often choose to move them to the carpet for my shared lesson.  I know that this transition takes an extra minute or two, but I find a lot of times a quick movement break, even just a change of seat, helps my kids focus.  I may say something like, "Join me at the carpet with your white board, marker, and eraser.  Get in 3 high 5s on your way and choose a seat by your brain buddy."  Otherwise, I either use my Tablet PC or journal pages under my document for shared.  I try to introduce a new concept, work through some practice problems, and maybe do a few problems on a math journal page in the EDM journal.

Guided Math Structure
At the end of my shared lesson, I will go over assignments and expectations for guided math time.  Guided Math time is usually 25-30 minutes, including 2 rotations: 1st rotation 15-20min, 2nd rotation 10-15min.  I post the rotation schedule and assignments on my screen:
This year I had a support teacher for guided math 3 days a week.  Here's a breakdown of the groups we met with and the frequency.  (I know not everyone has a support teacher, and that does make guided math way trickier.  I'll give some suggestions for that at the bottom.)
(My triangles were the "approaching" group, trapezoids were a "bubble" group, hexagons were an "on" group, and rhombuses were my "beyond" kids.)

In my guided groups, I did a mix of journal page problems, white board practice to reinforce the skill I taught in Shared, and homework previewing.  Nothing fancy--mostly we did in small groups whatever my EDM manual wanted the kids to do independently.  (I always meet with the most struggling students first.)

Independent Students
Obviously a good chunk of the class is NOT in a group at any given time, and figuring out how to best meet the needs of these kids during their independent time is by far the biggest challenge of guided math.  As the title of this post says, I do not use centers for guided math.  Instead, I give a daily assignment and utilize both the EDM games and skill reinforcement games I make up myself.  Assignments are posted on the screen as seen above, and I briefly go over them before transitioning to guided.  On a typical day, independent students are expected to:
  • Finish a journal page OR Start a homework page (ex. evens or odds)
  • Check journal page answers in my manual (which I left out on a desk open to the correct page)
  • Circle any tricky problems
  • Play a game from pre-selected options
I mentioned above that my students have "Brain Buddies" for both shared and guided.  My students are expected to sit by and work with their Guided Brain Buddy during the guided math portion of the math block.  They are expected to work through problems together, check work together, and then choose a game to play together.  I shared a picture of my math bulletin board back in March:
This board worked out great for explaining instructions for new games and organizing materials and handouts.  Kids always knew what games were available and where to find materials so they didn't have to interrupt my group.

When I finished with my first group, I would ring my bell and call over the second group.  These students had already been working on the assigned page, so our group looked a little different than the first group.  I would start by asking them which problems were tricky--either ones they couldn't solve at all or ones they noted were incorrect after checking with my manual page.  We'd work through those and do other practice problems if there was time.

 Many days the journal page and even the games in EDM would not be challenging enough for my highest achieving learners.  Those times I would take a short guided math session early on in the week to introduce a special challenge activity to my highest guided math group.  I would let them know that they could work on this activity during the week instead of journal pages and games during their independent time.  Obviously I meet with my highest group less frequently than my approaching group, but I would try to meet with them at least twice a week to make sure that a) they were understanding the main content and b) they were progressing on their challenge activity.  I pulled these activities from EDM's enrichment sections a lot, but one favorite from outside the core curriculum was when we were learning about percents, the enrichment kids completed a "shopping spree" where they cut pictures out of ads and calculated sales prices and sales tax.
What if I don't have support?
On days when I didn't have a support teacher and I felt that many of my students were struggling, I'd scrap my typical rotation schedule and instead do a "Show What You Know" Check-In.  Here's how it works.
I projected between 3 and 4 quick check problems on the screen as a follow up to our shared lesson.  Students had 5 minutes to solve the problems either on their boards or in their notebooks.  (I usually played a song during this time.)  After 5 minutes, instead of wasting precious seconds going over every problem, I'd just project the answers and ask the students to mark their work correct or incorrect.  Then, they'd show me on their fingers how many questions they got right by placing their hand on their heart (Daily 5 Style).  If I gave 4 problems, students who got 0-2 right automatically came to the carpet to work with me (instead of the table because it's often a bigger group), students who got 3 correct have their choice of whether they want to work independently or with the teacher, and students who got 4 right are independent.  Not perfect, but it works alright!
PHEW!  That was long.  I hope some part of it was helpful!!!  Email me at juiceboxesandcrayolasATgmailDOTcom  if you have any questions!

Tell me about your math block!!

June 26, 2013

What I'm Reading Wednesday

Don't forget to enter my Cheribundi giveaway to win some yummy tart cherry juice!

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
Goodreads SummaryThe Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone—and serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey has landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days on the job, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything, instead “checking out” impossibly obscure volumes from strange corners of the store, all according to some elaborate, long-standing arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra. The store must be a front for something larger, Clay concludes, and soon he’s embarked on a complex analysis of the customers’ behavior and roped his friends into helping to figure out just what’s going on. But once they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, it turns out the secrets extend far outside the walls of the bookstore.

With irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan has crafted a literary adventure story for the twenty-first century, evoking both the fairy-tale charm of Haruki Murakami and the enthusiastic novel-of-ideas wizardry of Neal Stephenson or a young Umberto Eco, but with a unique and feisty sensibility that’s rare to the world of literary fiction. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave, a modern-day cabinet of wonders ready to give a jolt of energy to every curious reader, no matter the time of day.

My Thoughts:  Oh my gosh.  I cannot say enough good things about this quirky, fun book.  If you are a book lover, read it now.  If you are a tech geek, same.  If you are both, RUN to the library and check it out.  I had a blast following Clay on his journey into the strange world of Mr. Penumbra's cooky book store and the following adventures it leads him on.  This book involves secret societies, eccentric bibliophiles, three story book stores with sliding ladders, visits to the Google campus, a search for a literary "fountain of youth, code breaking, and possibly most importantly, a witty and likable narrator.  Totally recommend.
4.5/5 Stars

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
Goodreads Summary: Full of incredible characters, amazing athletic achievements, cutting-edge science, and, most of all, pure inspiration, Born to Run is an epic adventure that began with one simple question: Why does my foot hurt?In search of an answer, Christopher McDougall sets off to find a tribe of the world’s greatest distance runners and learn their secrets, and in the process shows us that everything we thought we knew about running is wrong.

Isolated by the most savage terrain in North America, the reclusive Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s deadly Copper Canyons are custodians of a lost art. For centuries they have practiced techniques that allow them to run hundreds of miles without rest and chase down anything from a deer to an Olympic marathoner while enjoying every mile of it. Their superhuman talent is matched by uncanny health and serenity, leaving the Tarahumara immune to the diseases and strife that plague modern existence. With the help of Caballo Blanco, a mysterious loner who lives among the tribe, the author was able not only to uncover the secrets of the Tarahumara but also to find his own inner ultra-athlete, as he trained for the challenge of a lifetime: a fifty-mile race through the heart of Tarahumara country pitting the tribe against an odd band of Americans, including a star ultramarathoner, a beautiful young surfer, and a barefoot wonder.

With a sharp wit and wild exuberance, McDougall takes us from the high-tech science labs at Harvard to the sun-baked valleys and freezing peaks across North America, where ever-growing numbers of ultrarunners are pushing their bodies to the limit, and, finally, to the climactic race in the Copper Canyons. Born to Run is that rare book that will not only engage your mind but inspire your body when you realize that the secret to happiness is right at your feet, and that you, indeed all of us, were born to run.

My Thoughts: I know I am super late to the Born to Run party, but I just never got around to reading it until this summer.  I'm glad I finally did!  This book was so fascinating from cover to cover.  I loved reading about thee Tarahumara, the ultra marathoners McDougall meets, the crazy Leadville 100 mile race, all of the science behind the theory that humans evolved as a culture of "Running Men"...everything.  I'll admit, it made me want to try barefoot running, pinole, and chia seeds!  Although I will probably just stick to chia seeds. :)  I also loved that it totally reads like a novel, a very quick, fascinating read.  I found myself sharing anecdotes from the book with my mom whom I am currently traveling with and who could care less about running...maybe I should save those anecdotes to share with runner friends when I get home!  I'll finish with a favorite section of the book:

"Distance running was revered because it was indispensable; it was the way we survived and thrived and spread across the planet. You ran to eat and to avoid being eaten; you ran to find a mate and impress her, and with her you ran off to start a new life together. You had to love running, or you wouldn't live to love anything else. And like everyhing else we ove--everything we sentimentally call our 'passions' and 'desires' it's really an encoded ancestral necessity. We were born to run; we were born because we run. We're all Running People, as the Tarahumara have always known.” 
4/5 Stars

What have you been reading this week?

June 25, 2013

Training Tuesday: Gear I Cannot Live Without

Don't forget to enter my Cheribundi tart cherry juice Giveaway!

Over the past few years, I have tried a ton of different running clothes, shoes, and gear.  Here are some of the things I cannot live without!

Brooks Pure Cadence Shoes
I have had the worst trouble in the past finding running shoes that fit my feet, but last year I fell IN LOVE with these shoes.  They are super lightweight and just feel great running.  The awesome colors don't hurt either!  After running in these, my old regular running shoes feel super clunky.  They're definitely not a minimalist shoe, but a great option for someone looking for a lightweight shoe.
Nike Tempo Shorts
Absolute favorite running shorts, hands down.  I've tried running in compression shorts, skirts, etc., but these babies beat them all for me.  Plus who can resist the adorable colors and prints!
Rock Tape
This stuff has saved my running, f'real.  I have tried a million things to combat IT Band Syndrome over the last 2+ years--stretches, strengthening exercises, form changes, shoe changes, physical therapy, rest (turns out rest actually made my ITBs tighter...), but eventually I just needed to get on with my running life.  Enter Rock Tape!  I know, I know, this stuff is just a bandaid covering the symptoms of my ITBS, but it keeps me running!  I have tried KT tape too, but I way prefer Rock Tape.  I like that I can cut the strips myself, and it stays on WAY better than KT tape in my opinion.
Check out my pink rocktape! :)
Yur Buds
I love these little guys.  They actually stay in my ears--it's a miracle! They're not perfect and need some adjustments on really sweaty runs, but they are definitely the best ear buds I've tried.
Garmin 405
I had the bulkier, calculator-watch-resembling Garmin 205 for a few years before upgrading to the 405.  Before I bought this watch, I read a lot of reviews online including many negative ones.  It seems like people's biggest complaint was the bezel, but I have never had a problem with it.  In fact, I love it!  Fits my wrist so much more comfortably than the 205.
Yay for ((rarely)) finishing runs before 5am!
The Stick
We all know the importance of foam rolling, but I'm not going to lie--sometimes I get lazy with rolling!  The Stick does a great job at breaking up those knots just like rolling, but it's easy to use sitting on the couch watching TV.  It's also so portable--I throw it in the car when I'm driving to the forest preserve for long runs so that I can roll out before and after.  I also bring it to races sometimes to use at the finish line.  Who wants to lay down on the sidewalk or in a parking lot with a foam roller?  It also works great for travel.
Rollin' Out after the Chicago Spring Half
Road ID Slim
While this baby isn't exactly going to call the police if I get attacked on the run, at least it's better than nothing!  Seriously though, if I'm running alone, I'm wearing this thing.  100% of the time.  It lets my mom rest easy if nothing else.  I like that it comes in little sizes too--nothing worse than worrying about something sliding around on your wrist or falling off when you're out running!
Nike Featherlight Running Cap
I LOVE headbands--active bands, bondi bands, you name it--but on a super hot day, only a hat can keep my thick, frizzy hair under control.  I also love these hats in the rain to keep water out of my eyes.  Light, comfortable, and awesome!
Gu Peanut Butter
Gu is my fuel of choice for long runs--easy to choke down, easy on the tummy.  PB is the only flavor lately that not only doesn't nauseate me, but that I actually love the taste of!
Beautiful Niece playing with a PB Gu--that's my girl!
Compression Sleeves, Socks, & Shorts
I have totally drunk the compression wear kool-aide.  Reason why?  IT WORKS.  Period.  I usually wear compression sleeves on long runs and socks/shorts for recovery.  I swear I can tell a difference in how my muscles feel after wearing them!  For sleeves I like Zensah and CEP, my favorite socks are Recovery Socks and Pro Compression socks, and I have shorts from both Asperis and Tommie Copper.
Rocking compression socks (and three other things from this post!) after the Disney Princess half!

What running gear can you not live without?

Disclaimer: I received no compensation for this post--I just love this stuff and wanted to share it with you!  

June 24, 2013

Cheribundi Tart Cherry Juice: Review + Giveaway!

I was recently contacted by Cheribundi and asked to try out their tart cherry juice.  I am not a huge juice drinker, but I do love cherries and was intrigued by the "super food" properties of tart cherry juice.  As a CHRONICALLY injured runner, I'm always interested in anything that promises healthy muscles and injury prevention.  According to a pamphlet included in my box o' juice, cherry juice had positive effects on alleviating muscle pain and inflammation in runners.  I don't have any more details than that, but I'm willing to try anything that promises healthy muscles. :)
From the Cheribundi website:
Our tart cherries are harvested at the peak of ripeness to capture as much of the bright cherry color as possible. They taste better and have more powerful phytonutrients than other superfruits. That includes the trendy pomegranate, the acai berry, grapes or blueberries. Rich with nutrients, tart cherries can help you recover from exercise, sleep better, and in general, live life to the fullest because you feel better.
My sample pack included five different kinds of tart cherry juice: Relax, Restore, Rebuild, Light, and Original.  I tried the original tart cherry juice first.  I was super impressed by the ingredients--50 cherries per bottle, 100% juice, and some apple juice added into the cherry juice for sweetness.  I LOVED the taste.  It was tart, but not super sour--similar maybe to the tartness of cranberry juice.  It reminded me of the tart cherry pies my mom makes in summer.  Yum!
The other types were also good, although the original was my favorite.  I did like that there was a big variety of juices for different purposes.  The light juice is sweetened with stevia and cuts the apple juice out that's included in the original juice for less sugar.  Here I am enjoying the "Rebuild" juice after the Chicago Spring Half Marathon, which includes 8 grams of added protein to make it a good recovery drink. 
Drinking the "Restore" juice and soaking up it added electrolytes after a particularly sweaty run!

Did I feel a huge change in my muscles and energy level after drinking Cheribundi?  Well no.  But did it taste good?  Yes.  Would I drink it again?  You bet.  I would definitely buy this juice.  To me it's kind of like my thoughts on drinking chocolate milk for recovery--they say it's good for me, and it tastes delicious, so why question it?  If drinking cherry juice helps my muscles and I enjoy drinking it, why not?

The nice folks at Cheribundi offered to give away a sampler pack of tart cherry juice like the one featured pictured to one of my readers!  Here's how to enter:
  • Be a follower of my blog through Google Friend Connect, Bloglovin', or any other platform, and leave a comment letting me know that you are! (Mandatory)
  • Visit the Cheribundi website and let me know which juice you are most interested in trying (+1 entry)
  • Share this giveaway on your blog, facebook, or twitter and leave a comment letting me know that you did (+1 entry each)
That's a total of 5 possible chances to win a whole bunch of delicious juice!  This giveaway will end at midnight on Saturday, June 29th.  I will choose a winner using random.org and post it on this blog on Sunday, June 30th. (Or as quickly as I can get online--I'll be on vacation without consistent internet!)

Disclaimer: I was provided a sampler pack of Cheribundi juice in exchange for writing this review, received no additional compensation.  All opinions expressed are my own--this juice is just plain yummy. :)

June 21, 2013

Summer Days in Pictures

I read a post on Clean Eating Chelsey last week where Chelsey took a photo every hour for a day and published them all in a recap of the day.  While I'm sure no one really cares what I do all day, pictures are always my favorite parts of blog posts, so I decided to try documenting my day in pictures yesterday.  Here's what I've got!

Alarm goes off, hit snooze...
Finally get out for a 3 mile run...

Foam rolling + Refueling with Chocolate milk

Registered for a duathlon!

Steamin' hot yoga class

Delicious post-yoga protein smoothie

Visit to Target
The haul--love this super light and loose running tank!

Grocery shoppin' in preparation for Book Club tonight


Making pasta salad and sangria for book club

 My go-to summer lunch: mixed greens with goat cheese, strawberries, and vinegarette + chobani
Blogging time!  With a little chocolate on the side...

Much needed fresh coat of nail polish + catching up on this week's Pretty Little Liars 
(I KNOW.  Judge away, I'm still going to watch...)

Book + Balcony

Sweet napping awesomeness...

Finally got around to doing my hair...
((Belated)) thank you notes for a few student gifts

Book Club!

More Book Club...

Even more book club...

Balcony Reading

More Reading...

Fell asleep here :)

And that's my day!  I know you were probably thinking how little you care about my boring summer days, but I had fun taking pictures all day.  Let me know if you decide to do a photo an hour day!

What fun things do you have planned for the weekend?
This is a busy one for me!  Saturday morning I have a 7 mile training run, followed by spending the day boating with a friend, followed by hopefully watching another Blackhawks win.  Sunday I am jetting off to Florida to see this little princess!!
Me + Adorable Niece
Can't wait to see how big she's gotten since Christmas!
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